Jordan: Death penalty sought for woman charged in hotel bombings

In televised confession, bomber said her bomb-belt failed to detonate.

Jordan bomber 298.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
Jordan bomber 298.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Jordan's military prosecution on Sunday asked for the death penalty for an Iraqi woman charged in the suicide bombings on three Amman hotels last November. Sajida al-Rishawi, 35, confessed on Jordanian television shortly after the bombings that she intended to carry out a suicide attack on one of the hotels along with her husband and two other Iraqi bombers. In her televised confession, al-Rishawi said that her explosives belt failed to detonate. But she retracted her confession in May, telling her lawyer she had no intention of killing herself and insisted that she did not even try detonate her belt. In June, an explosives expert refuted that claim before the court, saying that the trigger mechanism had jammed. "This defendant and others like her are a scourge, who seek to spread death and destruction in this country," said the chief military prosecutor, whose name was withheld by order of the military court. Summing up his case in the trial that began on April 24, the prosecutor told the court that those responsible for the Amman hotel bombings "must be uprooted from society." "The prosecution and Jordanian society at large appeal to your honor to get rid of such elements and give them the sentence they deserve: the death penalty," the prosecutor added. Al-Rishawi's lawyer, Hussein al-Masri, has said that his client was forced by her husband to go with him to one of the Amman hotels. Her husband, Ali al-Shamari, was one of three other Iraqi bombers who blew themselves up in the three blasts, killing 60 civilians - mainly Jordanian Muslim women and children. Al-Rishawi pleaded innocent plea at the start of her trial. Her lawyer argued that her confession was extracted under duress, and asked that his client undergo a psychological evaluation. The court denied the request. Al-Rishawi is the only defendant in custody. Six others are being tried in absentia. The Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was also being tried in absentia for the blasts before he was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq in June. The prosecutor asked for the death penalty for all defendants. In his argument Sunday, the prosecutor said that al-Rishawi and her group had "intentionally planned to kill innocent people by targeting civilian institutions filled with people to instill fear and spread sedition." "But we will never permit that; this country will confront anyone who dares to tamper with its security," he said, closing his argument in the case. The defense is expected to start presenting its case on Wednesday.